Taco Bell’s latest advertising project? Their Drive-Thru Diet®.
Their spokesperson, a real-life dieter identified as Christine, claims to have lost 54 pounds over the course of two years “by choosing Fresco items from the Drive-Thru Diet® menu and making other sensible choices.”
As if the “other sensible choices” part wasn’t enough of a hint that there’s more to this than meets the eye, we then learn that Christine simply reduced her total caloric intake by 500 calories for a total of 1,250 calories a day.
It seems that even the folks at Taco Bell are aware this campaign is a bit of a stretch.
Not only does Christine herself share that “these results aren’t typical” and that “as you know,” (?) “the Drive-Thru Diet® menu is not a weight-loss program” — the Taco Bell website makes this statement:
“For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Fresco can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food.”
This comes back to a point I often make on this blog — actual weight-loss can be done with almost any food.
In fact, this campaign reminds me of a similar one by Special K cereal a few years ago. The gist was that Special K helped you lose weight, provided — of course — that you had a bowl of it as your lunch.
Christine could have consumed 1,250 calories worth of ice cream, french fries, and pizza and still have lost the weight.
The added challenge comes from achieving weight loss while meeting nutrient needs and providing the body with sufficient energy and care.
A 1,250-calorie diet of junk food will result in weight loss, but also in completely inadequate nutrient intakes.
It’s also worth pointing out that one can consume 320 calories in a half cup of premium ice cream or six cups of strawberries.
The strawberries, of course, provide phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber lacking in that half cup of ice cream. In fact, a mere half cup of strawberries (roughly 50 calories) provides significantly more nutrition than that half cup of ice cream. In that sense, all calories are most certainly NOT created equal!
Furthermore, while I understand what Taco Bell is trying to do here (reminding customers that their menu offers lower-calorie items), two things bother me:
- This campaign is completely carried by a woman, once again reiterating the stereotype that only women care about managing their weight and seeking healthier options
- All this talk of healthier options is a little silly when you consider that some Fresco items contain half a day’s worth of sodium
Rather than create this eye-rolling gimmick, why didn’t Taco Bell simply advertise their lower-calorie items with a “At Taco Bell, low calories are no problem”-ish campaign? It would at least be — gasp! — more honest.